By Rev. Mel Munchinsky, Chair of the Conference Board of Global Ministries
The Annual Conference Mission Project is asking local churches to support their local food bank this year. Many of our churches already provide support in one way or another, either through a community effort or their own local church. This mission project is asking churches to go over and above their regular support whatever that might be. This support can be provided in a variety of ways: canned goods, gift cards and cash. Although food banks appreciate any donation, they can leverage a one dollar cash gift to buy ten dollars worth of food! The Conference Board of Global Ministries is asking that the collection period be from March 15th through June 16th and that a final tally be sent to Billie Fidlin, Director of Outreach at email@example.com or by phone at 602-266-6956 ext. 221. Please report cash, pounds of canned goods donated or if you have another way of counting support, use that method.
According to the Washington D.C. based “Food Research and Action Center” the number of people going without food in 2012 increased. One in five Arizona households (21%) did not have enough money last year to buy the food they needed. This is in contrast with the rest of the country where food hardship fell to 18% in 2012. “Unfortunately, these new food hardship rates show Arizona is still struggling with the lingering effects of the recession,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “With uncertainty around … sequestration and other budget cuts, it continues to be a very tough time for Arizona households struggling with hunger.” (Arizona Republic, March 7, 2013).
The poverty threshold, which is $23,050 per year for a family of four, is not the only indicator of food insecurity. Although hard to believe, most Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. (Hacker, J. S. The Great Risk Shift: The new insecurity and the decline of the American dream. New York: Oxford University Press). Poverty level individuals and families are not the only ones needing help. There are many working families who are employed in two or more jobs, at a minimum wage, and have difficulty keeping food on the table. We also know that poverty rates are persistently higher in rural and inner city parts of the country as compared to suburban areas, this is also true of Arizona.
Whatever you and your church can do to help to alleviate hunger will be greatly appreciated by those to need such help. Food Banks are one of many ways which can provide help for those who need it the most.